The Northwest Chocolate Festival is one of the biggest chocolate festivals in Northern America. And unlike many of the smaller fair-like chocolate festivals I’ve been to, the NW Chocolate Festival is more focused on the trendy bean-to-bar movement. I was very surprised to meet just as much chocolate professionals as enthusiasts in the crowd!
There were several trends that I’ve noticed during the event. Here are a few:
- 100% Chocolate – chocolate has definitely gained popularity among health enthusiast hailed as a super food and an antioxidant. That said, the real health benefit of chocolate is only when consumed with no (or little) fillers such as sugar and cream thus 100%. Personally, though I’m an avid fan of the higher % chocolate flavors for its bitterness, the 100% bars are just not as enjoyable.
- Brown Butter – as a pastry chef, using beurre noisette or brown butter has been my favorite secret ingredient. And brown butter in chocolate is very simply – a genius idea! Though I’ve tasted brown butter chocolate milk bars in the past, infusing it on a dark chocolate is pure bliss! It adds a dimension of flavor and nuttiness to the bar!
- Dark Milk – if there is a perfect recipe for a chocolate bar that truly everyone can enjoy, it would be a dark-milk bar! Its equal amount of bitter and sweet with that traditional European luxuriously rich taste. One of the the chocolate maker’s blend was that of equal amount of 41% and 72%.
Best pick – Crio Bru is a coffee alternative as described on their website. Its made of a cacao bean and roasted, ground and brewed just like coffee. It looks like coffee but it taste like a hot cocoa without milk.
From over 100+ exhibitors I’ve sampled, here are my top festival bar favorites! Note: to make it an even comparison, I’ve mostly focused my palette on the dark bars ranging from 67% to 80%.
- Luisa Abram – 70% Amazon Rainforest
- Creo Chocolate – 67% Brown Butter Bar
- Raaka Chocolate – 67% Cacao Root Beer
- French Broad – 80% Costa Rica
- Labooko – 82% Pur Dark Chocolate Bar
Here are my other favorites:
Give these awesome bars a try! Cheers!